Securing design patents becomes necessary when a product’s appearance is essential to its success. You can obtain patent protection on an entire object or a portion by filing a patent application with the USPTO. According to the USPTO, a design is a set of visual ornamental features integrated into a manufactured object. A design patent can cover everything from jewelry to packaging.
Below are the steps on how to get a design patent. But it’s important to note that the patent application process can be complex. Legal assistance or consultation with a patent attorney is advisable, especially if you are unfamiliar with patent law. This outline only provides a general overview, and the detailed process can vary depending on individual circumstances and regulation changes.
Step 1. Preliminary Research
Getting a design patent becomes more manageable if you’ve done preliminary research. Research to ensure your design is unique and not already covered by existing patents. If any prior references or prior patent documents are similar, chances are the examiner will find them. Avoid this mistake by verifying the uniqueness of your work before moving into the following stages of the patent application.
Step 2. Create Detailed Drawings or Images
Prepare clear and accurate drawings or photographs that depict the design you want to patent. The United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) asks for drawings from all angles of the object:
Step 3. Description
Draft a brief design description highlighting its essential characteristics and features. This description should complement the visual representations.
Step 3. Submit the Application
File a design patent application with the United States Patent and Trademark Office. You can do this online through the Electronic Filing System (EFS-Web). You should also provide all the necessary information. This includes your contact details, a title for the design, and details about any prior applications or related patents.
Step 4. Pay the Fees
Design patent applications require specific fees to be paid. Make sure to submit the required fees along with your application. Fee information can be found on the USPTO website.
Step 5. Review and Examination
Once your application is submitted, it will be reviewed at the USPTO. This process includes a formal examination to ensure the application meets all requirements.
If the USPTO identifies any issues with your application, you may receive an Office Action requesting clarification, additional information, or corrections. Respond to these requests promptly to avoid delays.
Step 6. Publication
Once your application is deemed in order, it will be published in the Official Gazette. This publication provides the public with notice of your design patent application.
Step 6. Opportunity for Third-Party Opposition
After publication, there is a limited period during which third parties can raise objections or concerns about your design patent application.
Step 7. Grant of Patent
A design patent will be granted if there are no substantial objections and the USPTO is satisfied with your application. This patent will protect your design for a specified period, typically 15 years from the grant date.
Design Patent FAQs
What does a design patent cover?
The design patent covers the appearance or unique structure of the product. Likewise, the inventor should file a new design patent if there is a notable difference because it may not be specified in the previous design patent.
How long does the application process take?
Generally, the USPTO gives out design patents within 12 months and can be granted in 6 to 9 months.
Can there be the same design patents?
Remember, a design patent involves the exact appearance and unique structure. Similar patents can be present. So, the company can’t infringe on an existing patent by making something that closely looks like a competitor’s product.
Should you sue over design patent infringement?
You can sue another company for damages if a particular company steals your design. You can also issue a demand letter to ask the company to pay you a license fee.
What is a patent reissue?
Patent reissue when you change your original design patent application. A reissue is typically done with the latest or updated patent drawings.
How much does a design patent application cost?
As of January 2017, a design patent application costs $180. However, the USPTO charges small businesses only $90, and smaller companies pay only $45.
So you learned how to get a design patent to prevent copycats. By following the outlined application process steps, you can confidently embark on the journey to protect your innovative designs. Remember, a design patent safeguards your creative vision and allows you to be recognized. With this guide, you can offer one-of-a-kind creations while ensuring legal protection.